Officials confirm Egypt voters back new constitution

Officials confirm Egypt voters back new constitution

by Middle East correspondent Matt Brown, wires

Voters in Egypt have overwhelming approved a new constitution drafted by president Mohamed Morsi's Islamist allies.

Formal results released by the national electoral commission showed 63.8 per cent of people voted in favour of the controversial constitution, giving Islamists their third straight victory at the polls since Hosni Mubarak was toppled in a 2011 revolution.

Only 32.9 per cent of voters took part in the referendum - a much lower rate than for the parliamentary elections held a year ago.

Mr Morsi's liberal, secular and Christian opponents took to the streets to block what they argued was a move to ram through a charter that would dangerously mix politics and religion.

The president argues the new constitution offers sufficient protection for minorities, and adopting it quickly is necessary to end two years of turmoil and political uncertainty that has wrecked Egypt's economy.

The final result matched - to the last decimal place - an earlier unofficial tally announced by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The constitution was drawn up by a body largely made up of Mr Morsi's Islamist allies.

The results announcement was a disappointment for the opposition, which had put pressure on the authorities to recount the result to reflect what they have described as major vote violations.

"We have seriously investigated all the complaints," judge Samir Abu el-Matti of the Supreme Election Committee told a news conference.

Cairo, gripped by often violent protests in the lead up to the vote, appeared calm after the announcement and opposition groups have announced no plans for demonstrations to mark the result.

"The results was so odd and no change in the percentage points shows that nothing was done to take our complaints into account," Khaled Dawood, an opposition spokesman, said.

Egypt's general elections are now due in just two months.

Hours before the vote result was announced, Egyptian authorities imposed a new ban on travelling in or out of the country with more than $10,000 in foreign currency, a move apparently intended to halt capital flight.

Some Egyptians have begun withdrawing their savings from banks amid a growing sense of crisis.

Egypt's prime minister Hisham Kandil told the nation the government was committed to taking steps to heal the economy.

"The main goals that the government is working towards now is plugging the budget deficit, and working on increasing growth to boost employment rates, curb inflation, and increase the competitiveness of Egyptian exports," he said.



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